MTN Group (MTN) has asked a United States court to terminate the case filed against it on December 27, 2019, asserting claims for civil monetary relief under the U.S. Anti-Terrorism Act.
As stated in the formal written document submitted to the U.S. court by MTN’s legal counsel, entitled a “motion to dismiss,” MTN requested the court to end the lawsuit and grant a judgment in MTN’s favour for two independent reasons: because the court lacks jurisdiction over MTN, which does not operate in the United States, and because the complaint does not allege any conduct by MTN that would have violated the Anti-Terrorism Act.
Under U.S. law and procedures, MTN is not permitted at this stage of the lawsuit to challenge or contest the factual allegations made against the company, so the motion to dismiss focuses on the lack of jurisdiction and the legal insufficiency of the claims.
MTN has deep sympathy for those who have been injured or lost loved ones as a result of the tragic conflict in Afghanistan. As stated in the motion to dismiss, however, “the MTN Defendants are not the extremists that caused Plaintiffs’ tragic losses and injuries. To the contrary, MTN Afghanistan has been lauded by the World Bank for expanding telecommunications services to the impoverished people of Afghanistan and has itself been a target of violence in the devastating conflict in that war-torn country. Put simply, Plaintiffs have sued the wrong defendants in the wrong court based on insufficient allegations.”
MTN remains of the view that it conducts its business in a responsible and compliant manner in all its territories and, as reflected in the motion to dismiss, intends to defend its position accordingly.
MTN Group today announced details of its R250 million relief package in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Operating across 21 markets MTN Group has customised its response to recognize its responsibility to contribute both in its home market South Africa as well as in many other markets facing enormous challenges managing the pandemic. Comprising five key intervention initiatives, the Group has focused on employees, customers, vulnerable groups, contributions to the South African Government’s Solidarity Fund and participating in industry interventions.
“We believe it is the responsibility of all organisations to assist where they can during the pandemic. MTN plays a vital role in the mobile and telecommunications industry across Africa and the Middle East and it is vital that we assist our employees, customers and stakeholders during this difficult time,” said Mcebisi Jonas, the Chairman of MTN Group. Believing that charity “begins at home”, the Group plans to raise R40 million for the MTN Global Staff Emergency Fund for employees in need.
The funds will be raised by contributions from the Group’s directors, managers and general staff. The Chairman, Group CEO, Group CFO and a number of MTN Group directors have pledged 30% of their board fees and salaries for the next three months. The executive teams of both MTN Group and MTN South Africa have also contributed to the fund. In addition, other staff members can also contribute by making salary sacrifices.
Furthermore, over R150 million will be invested in the Y’ello Hope Package for customers – that includes free SMS services, the waiving of fees for certain mobile money transactions, discounted calling during off-peak periods, zero-rating of certain health, social services and educational sites and payment concessions to our business customers. “Utilising our services and technologies for the greater good is key at the moment. We can positively impact millions of lives and our main focus is on keeping our network in good working order and enable our customers to connect with their loved ones during this most difficult time for all,” said Rob Shuter, MTN Group President and CEO.
MTN is also mobilising the work of the MTN Foundations across the markets to reach those most vulnerable through contributions towards tackling health emergencies to minimise the spread of COVID-19 (Disease Commodity Packages and ICT services needed for Health Ministries and Health professionals); and enabling students to remain productive by accessing vital school and university content with a total contribution of at least R50 million.
MTN was born at the dawn of South African democracy and owes its heritage to the place of its birth. MTN Group will also contribute R10 million to the South African Government’s Solidarity Fund. MTN will also leverage its knowledge and infrastructure in the continued participation in the many forums that have been set up to assist those in need.
MTN has been awarded the most valuable telecom brand in Africa in a recent annual report by Brand Finance, a leading independent brand valuation consultancy. The report stated that MTN’s brand value was boosted by a solid overall performance for the year, despite challenging economic conditions and regulatory challenges in some markets.
Brand finance also recognised MTN for its focus on customers and providing a high-quality service across all its markets. “Amid these unprecedented times in fighting a global pandemic, MTN Group is humbled by the Brand Finance recognition and our progress in rising up through the ranks of this year’s Telecoms 150 report” said MTN President and Group CEO, Rob Shuter.
Brand Finance CEO, David Haigh commented: “MTN is to be commended for its performance in its home market as well as further afield. They are increasingly recognised throughout Africa by their customers as providing high quality service, because their brand image is deeply rooted on more than just marketing campaigns”
Brand Finance acknowledged MTN’s BRIGHT strategy to grow revenues through data and digital, while also focusing on growing its subscriber base. It upgraded MTN’s brand strength rating from AAA- to AAA, in recognition of an increasingly strong leadership position in telecommunication services throughout Africa and the other markets within which it operates, as well as increasingly resilient network investments.
The report noted a negative global impact on the brand value of the world’s biggest telecom companies which are set to be impacted by the Coronavirus outbreak. “We have built a sound, robust and resilient organisation that can and will weather the storm before us. As a Group, we are taking the decisive steps required to persevere in our MTN spirit of togetherness and a positive, can-do attitude,” concluded Shuter.